Is that what went wrong?
Of course not.
James confirmed that he hoped Wade would have ended up in Cleveland with him.
“We couldn’t afford him,” James said. “It’s that simple.”
“Who wouldn’t be interested in a Hall of Famer?” echoed Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, assuming Wade’s eventual spot in Springfield. “That don’t even make sense. Yeah, we wanted him.”
That darned salary cap.
We accept these realities because they’re so ingrained, but the NBA doesn’t need to have a cap (or max salaries). Those mechanisms probably create the best league, but these situations – where a team wants to pay a player and that player wants to join that team – show the limitations.
Anyway, Wade got $47 million over two years from the Bulls – far more than the Cavs, realistically limited to the mid-level exception, could offer. LeBron, Wade and everyone else knew that situation well before Wade signed anywhere.
Plenty of teams every year want to sign better free agents than they can afford under the cap. This situation is not exceptional other than the big names involved.